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(Text) Messages from the Angel Gabriel

neon pink words and image of a text message and wings and flamingo

“The Angel Gabriel brought me a message, but forgot it the second he saw his first cat video,” begins the tumultuous relationship between an angel and a human that is at the core of (Text) Messages from The Angel Gabriel. The novel in verse presents each stage of the complicated, often paradoxical relationship, from initial visitation to inevitable conclusion. Over the course of the narrative The Angel Gabriel ponders the mystery of the jalapeno popper, pretends to be a therapist, and fails to deliver a message. He learns to text, tries to send a booty call, experiences the highs and lows of Black Friday shopping, and throws a baby shower. The vignettes in this novel mimic the rhythms of repeated text messages, memes, movie montages, listicles, and other aspects of modern life. Readers experience a range of emotions throughout the story, from disbelief in the moment when The Angel Gabriel appears on the narrator’s doorstep, to the humor inherent in an angel running a frozen yogurt shop, to the melancholy realization that even when you are divine, you are still ultimately human. Between the open and close of the relationship, readers see the scope of that flawed, multi-faceted humanity. In eighteen short vignettes, (Text) Messages from The Angel Gabriel offers readers a unique story of the rise and fall of a relationship that feels timeless and modern, singular, yet worth revisiting, like a parting gift from the ex you’ve never quite gotten rid of.

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(Text) Messages from the Angel Gabriel is a wondrous book for all the wayward romantics out there. It brightens your spirits (both metaphorical and literal) though its display of a relationship with the angelic that’s as endlessly inventive as it is strange and odd. Klein’s poetry is at times humanly funny and/or positively life-affirming, but always struck with enough divine magic to have you wanting to live in its world awhile longer. Just don’t expect Gabriel to play by the rules you would ordinarily expect.

In Frances Klein’s remarkable (Text) Messages from The Angel Gabriel, the ethereal is found in the everyday and unbelief is no obstacle to truth. Here we are reminded of lessons learned watching Mork and Mindy, SNL, WALL-E, The Good Place, and Battlestar Galactica, and who we truly are at baby showers, on nature walks, while Black Friday shopping, cheating at Scrabble, and placing non-booty calls. Klein’s poems are incarnational: the presence and absence of the divine lay bare what it is to be fully human. They not only leave a trail of breadcrumbs home but display how and why we keep walking into uncertain futures. Like the messages delivered and misplaced on these pages, if we let them into our lives, this collection is exquisitely suited to help us divest from our illusions and “to reveal us to ourselves.”

Frances Klein’s (Text) Messages from the Angel Gabriel is alight with humor and poignance, the small and the sweeping. To move through this collection is to be captured and thrown aloft, to be shown the quotidian from unexpected angles so the shapes we thought we knew become foreign and infused with new meaning. Like the Angel Gabriel cheating at Scrabble, Klein also flips the board and our expectations, sending little pieces scattering where we’ll find them later, “behind the bookshelf, on[our] tongue[s]” where they linger and transform. We observe the narrator observing the Angel Gabriel observing humanity, and, through this delicious translatory line we receive strange and profound revelations which insist with startling and lovely authority that “this is intimacy,” “this is providence,” “this is matrimony,” “this is penance,” “this is confirmation.” Although each piece contains its own complete world, the whole creates a compelling and satisfying narrative of discovery and intimacy.

Meet the Author

woman with short dark hair and black t shirt standing in front of a fence

Frances Klein (she/her) is an Alaskan poet and teacher. She is the 2022 winner of the Robert Golden Poetry Prize. Klein is the author of the poetry chapbooks New and Permanent (Blanket Seat Press, 2022), The Best Secret (Bottlecap Press, 2022) and (Text) Messages from The Angel Gabriel (Gnashing Teeth Press, 2024). Her full length collection I Have Never Wanted Another Life is forthcoming from Riot in Your Throat Press in 2025. Klein’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Best Microfictions, The Harvard Advocate, The Atticus Review, HAD, and others.

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